Deminski to NJ prosecutor: It’s ‘bull crap’ that police couldn’t stop wife-killing cop
The Monmouth County prosecutor went on the defensive Thursday afternoon hours after he released a report clearing Asbury Park police of wrongdoing in a 2015 incident in which a Neptune cop gunned down his ex-wife as fellow officers looked on.
Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni called into New Jersey 101.5 to defend the report on air. The report received blistering criticism from afternoon host Jeff Deminski, who called the findings "bull crap."
“Explain to me how this is not a whitewash when a cop is watching a man shoot his wife to death and doesn’t do anything?” Deminski asked Gramiccioni.
“There’s a misperception out there that were dozens and dozens of officers who just stood idly by while this woman was gunned down by her ex-husband in broad daylight,” Gramiccioni said. “And nothing, honestly could be further from the truth.”
His office’s report was released more than a year after Neptune Police Sgt. Philip Seidle used his service weapon to fire 12 shots at his ex-wife after he chased Tamara Seidle's car down with his own vehicle. The chase ended in front of an unrelated traffic stop by another cop.
The couple’s 7-year-old daughter was in the car when Seidle fired the first eight bullets. She managed to get our and run to a cop.
After more police arrived on scene, Seidle fired the second set of four bullets into the car.
Police never fired their weapons, drawing questions and criticism from the public about whether police showed preferential treatment toward a fellow officer.
“I guarantee you, if this were Joe V., if this were me, if this were you and we were standing there with the cops' guns out drawn on us, I don’t think we ever would have a chance to start firing into that car a second time,” Deminski said.
"I don’t even need to read your report to know this is bull crap.”
But Gramiccioni said there was no opportunity for officers to fire at Seidle. At one point, Seidle was pointing his gun at his own head and state regulations prohibit police from firing at a person threatening to take their own life.
Gramiccioni said officers were 75 to 100 feet away from Seidle before he fired his second series of shots; had obstructed views of Seidle because of parked cars; and the residential street was “surrounded by innocent bystanders.”
“These officers never had a reasonable chance to use force,” Gramiccioni told Deminski. “They weren’t even close by the time he finished those shots.”
Deminski said he saw several videos taken by witnesses from different angles. In some of the videos, which prosecutors did not release Thursday, police officers are separated from Seidle by just a pickup truck.
“It never looked like 75 feet to me,” Deminski said. "And you know what? It's is so predictable that your office, after dragging its heels for all this time when every other expert in the field said a report like this should have taken three months tops, would come out and say, ‘Oh, there could have been collateral damage'… Didn’t he pose a threat himself to other innocents on the street by [being allowed] to start firing his gun again?”
"That’s simply not true," the prosecutor responded. "They weren’t staring right at him with his guns drawn."
In one of the dashcam videos released by Gramiccioni’s office, officers can be seen drawing their guns and running toward Seidle as he’s firing his second series of shots.
“Why didn’t they rush him? Why didn’t they rush toward him? Why didn’t they do their jobs and why are you letting them get away with it?" Deminski asked Gramiccioni.
Deminski also questioned the findings that Seidle was not shown any preferential treatment because a cop gave Seidle a hug and a cop and told him that he was loved.
Gramiccioni conceded that move by a fellow Neptune officer, who was brought to the scene in a effort to de-escalate the situation, was "clearly ill advised."
"I believe your entire report is ill advised," Deminski said. "I cannot respect the conclusions of your report, whatsoever."
Video released Thursday by the prosecutor: (Story continues below)
Seidle is facing 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in September after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter and other charges.
After the segment, Deminski said the interview with Gramiccioni "got heated quickly" because "my heart breaks for the woman shot to death. She never stood a chance."
Yes, the officers probably could not have saved her. The first eight shots probably killed her. But none of the officers could have known that for sure. So when he was allowed to open fire on her a second time unchallenged, any chance she had no matter how remote was lost.
Gramiccioni gave many reasons why it was right not to shoot. I don't buy any of them. One was the closest officers were 75 feet away. He went on to explain 75 feet is the maximum firing distance officers train at at the range. My thought...so what's the problem? You train for this. He also talked about not wanting to hurt any innocent people on the street. What about the stray bullets hurting innocent people had Seidle missed HIS target? The fact that the officers called Seidle by first name, told him they loved him, even hugged him once he gave up was not enough for the report to see this as preferential treatment.
Had this been anyone other than a cop, a cop they knew and worked with, they'd be dead. No report that took a year to create will ever convince me otherwise.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.